Aereo unveils plan to expand into Boston

By Ben Mook

Aereo, the upstart TV programming service that is being sued by the major television networks, plans to expand its over-the-air streaming service into  Boston on May 15.

Aereo currently sells daily, monthly or annual subscriptions to television viewers in New York, using dime-sized antennas that capture broadcast signals and convert them into streaming video distributed over the Internet. Subscribers “rent” the antennas and have the option to watch television programming live or on demand via a device similar to a digital video recorder.

PBS and New York’s WNET are among the broadcast television outlets that filed lawsuits against Aereo in federal court in New York. Last July, Judge Alison J. Nathan refused to grant an injunction against Aereo, an action that likely would have shut down the service. After an appeal by the television networks, whose lawsuits have been joined together, the decision was upheld earlier this month by the Second Circuit.

Fox, one of the networks in the litigation, has warned that it will consider moving away from over-the-air broadcasting and distribute its programming exclusively on cable if  Aereo prevails in court.

In an April 23 release announcing Aereo’s expansion, Boston’s WGBH is listed first among the 28 stations that will be offered to local viewers:  “In Boston, there are 28 over-the-air broadcast channels accessible through Aereo’s antenna/DVR technology, including major networks such as WGBH (PBS), WBZ-TV (CBS), WCVB (ABC), WHDH (NBC), WLVI (CW) and WFXT (Fox); special interest channels such as the Country Network, PBS Kids, Ion and Qubo; and Spanish-language broadcast channels such as Univision and Telemundo. In addition, consumers can also add Bloomberg Television, for a total of 29 channels.”

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